Sundara Karma – Bullingdon, Oxford. Published in Oxford Mail 28/2/16
There’s a real sense of prophetic momentum behind these four lads from Reading. Sundara Karma formed when band members were just fourteen, were spotted and flaunted by BBC introducing at sixteen, signed by Sony and playing Reading festival at eighteen and now touring their debut album A Young Understanding which is to be released later this year. And all this despite having a name which sounds like something you mumble at an Indian restaurant after one too many pints of cobra. After two EP’s displaying glimpses of a sound and style which has genuine potential, it’s to be expected that some are tipping their album to prove the spark that cements them as more than merely hot air and overhype.
What is immediately apparent from Sundara Karma’s set is that they certainly have the ability to write strapping and sturdy, anthemic choruses that will delight festival goers and radio stations alike. Their style is reminiscent of early Placebo but with a shimmery, almost oriental lead guitar sound which, at first, gives the band the appearance of something organic and distinct. Unfortunately this is simply not the case and as the set unfolds the formulaic, rock by numbers structures and style brings the nouns trick and pony firmly to mind. There is a definite song writing algorithm Sundara Karma stick unashamedly to; take one bass line, add drums and minimalist lead guitar, sing verse, dampen down before big chorus, repeat until end of song. As a result the tunes all bleed into one another and the set begins to feel like a lethargic bulldozer ploughing through plaster of Paris. Usually if a band had only played a criminally short 45 minute show, as Sundara Karma did, there may be the implication the audience had been somewhat short-changed but after the final three power chord slog-a-thon, I for one was glad to slip out into the cold night.
What Sundara Karma have achieved in their short existence is most impressive and the inroads into the industry they have made by the end of adolescence are more than many make in a lifetime. However, as of yet there is no subtlety to their work or something which distinguishes them as a unique and progressive act. Their hook driven compositions will allow them to stay in the spotlight for only so long and the ability to evolve will be Sundara Karma’s boom or bust. At present their music does have the overwhelming feeling of A Young Understanding.